The parallels between “Oz” and Burning Man are almost uncanny. Compare the Default World to Kansas, the dust of Gate Road to the Yellow Brick version, and the flying monkeys to, well…, take your pick. Yet, while Burning Man also implores you to, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” the behind-the-scenes action is far more than smoke and mirrors (though smoke and mirrors are welcome!). Burning Man’s administrative team works year-round stoking these smoky fires.

Most of the team is based in the San Francisco office, which serves as home for innumerable meetings, trainings and larger events such as the third annual Regional Leadership Summit. A skeleton crew also keeps the embers glowing in the Gerlach office, ready to burst into flames during what is loosely termed as the “event season.” At its peak, hundreds of staff will pass through the Gerlach office, en route to work on the playa. During the event First Camp – Burning Man’s administrative hub – is appropriately located on the “wheel” in Center Camp. First Camp is the playa home for some Board and Senior Staff members, a small office trailer, and serves as the welcome center for The External Relations Team (XRT) and as a starting point for tours of Black Rock City.

Many staff perform “administration” tasks, some of which are demystified here:

Comprised of representatives from the Board, Senior Staff, Emergency Services, Black Rock Rangers and Department of Public Works, the Safety Committee works hard to ensure that we all work – and play – as safely as possible, both on and off the playa. The committee is happy to report that there were few issues that needed review in 2009.

The Legal Team worked tirelessly with numerous local, state, and federal agencies, paving the way to hold another hugely successful event in the Black Rock Desert. The grassroots efforts of Lawyers for Burners and the Law Enforcement Oversight Program continued its invaluable work with law enforcement striving to achieve a balance between enforcement and creative expression. Their efforts were supported by the ACLU, who provided a helpful Black Rock City presence for the second year.

The Finance Department, which handles all of the organization’s financial matters, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll, went through large organizational and personnel changes this year. After literally moving mountains of paperwork – and its electronic brethren – it’s now providing more regular and timely financial reports than ever before. These reports have made it much easier for the Board and department managers to monitor their budgets and have hence been an invaluable tool in meeting the year’s tighter financial goals. This department also oversees Tickets and the Box Office, which had perhaps its smoothest and most efficient year ever in 2009.